In August 2014 the band played its first Artiepalooza and raised about $3,000 for David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance and wellness services to New Jersey families impacted by a cancer diagnosis. “Never in our wildest dream did we think a boater would give up their boat to a band. But (Artie) said ‘Great! Let’s do it.’ And he meant it,” said Sheepherders guitarist Steve Warendorf, the organizer of Artiepalooza. “We lost Artie, but it’s important to us that we keep his memory alive and that’s what we try to do each summer.” “Artiepalooza is a wonderful way to honor a man and celebrate the life of a person who loved his friends, family and was passionate about the local waterways. And the event is done in a way that is respectful to marine life and our living shorelines,” Zipf said. The amount raised from Artiepalooza increased each summer and so did the number of spectators flocking to the event. At the last Artiepalooza in 2017, an estimated 250 or more vessels were on hand. Though Warendorf said he expects the event to continue to grow, there are no immediate plans to expand or move Artiepalooza to different or multiple locations. After the band got the boot, they were invited to Natsis’ boat for food and drinks that night, a meeting that sparked a great friendship and several performances on the back of Natsis’ boat that by summer’s end drew close to 70 vessels. MIDDLETOWN – A friend and husband gone too soon has spawned one of the Navesink River’s most treasured summertime traditions, due to return this Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. when the Moroccan Sheepherders bring their brand of rollicking rock ’n’ roll to Blossom Cove for Artiepalooza. For the fifth time in six years – last summer was interrupted by a rainstorm – the band will take to a seafaring stage on the second-story deck of a yacht and, from the stern, will play an eclectic collection of electrified cover tunes to a flotilla of local boaters and kayakers who attend the event. The event’s namesake is Artie Natsis, a boating enthusiast who, with his wife and Artiepalooza cofounder Feli, befriended the band after an unfortunate dismissal from a set of scheduled gigs in 2012. Zipf said the event is an example of fun passive boating, rather than the aggressive boating done by fast-moving recreational speed boats and jet skis sometimes seen slicing through the river systems. Aggressive boating can endanger wildlife, like terrapins and dolphin pods who visit the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers during the warm weather seasons. They can also create wakes that erode shorelines. According to Warendorf, the Sheepherders were booked to play three shows at Ross’ Dockside Steak and Seafood House, but customers “were complaining that we brought too many people out to the show. It was getting too loud for them. So we were fired.” “He really showed no signs of it in the beginning, but that winter is when he got really sick,” Warendorf said. “At his wake we came up with the idea for (Artiepalooza).” However, Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, said she hopes the concept will continue to catch on with other recreational boaters. After getting to know the Natsis family better, Warendorf learned Artie was living with cancer. He died in April 2013. “It’s about doing everything in moderation and being respectful and mindful of where you’re having fun. Everyone needs to be mindful of their location on the water for the protection of themselves and the environment,” Zipf added.